Why are some cashews white and some pale yellow?
The color variation you observe in cashew nuts can be attributed to a couple of factors: their processing method and their natural state. Here's a breakdown of why cashews can be either white or pale yellow:
Natural Variation: Cashew nuts are found in a natural state within the cashew apple's fruit. Their color can naturally vary from pale yellow to a creamy white. This variation is influenced by genetic factors, soil conditions, climate, and other environmental elements during their growth.
Processing: The cashew nuts you typically find in stores have undergone a processing method that involves removing the outer shell and seed coat. This outer shell contains a toxic substance known as urushiol, which can cause skin irritations similar to poison ivy. The processing method involves roasting the nuts at high temperatures to neutralize this toxic compound. During the roasting process, the cashews can turn white due to the removal of the outer layers. However, some cashews are only lightly roasted or not roasted at all. These less processed cashews might retain some of their natural pale yellow color. So, the level of processing plays a significant role in the color of cashews you see.
Varieties: There are different varieties of cashews that can exhibit different colors. Some cultivars naturally have paler nuts, while others tend to be creamier in color.
Storage Conditions: Over time, if cashews are stored improperly or exposed to light and air, they might start to lose some of their color and appear paler than when they were fresh.
It's important to note that the color variation doesn't necessarily indicate a difference in quality or taste. Both white and pale yellow cashews are safe to consume and can be equally delicious. The primary factor is the level of processing they've undergone and their natural variations.